Wyatt Johnston propels Stars to 3-1 series lead over Avs

Wyatt Johnston had two goals and an assist, Miro Heiskanen had a goal and two assists, and the Dallas Stars beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 in Denver on Monday night to take a commanding lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.

Dallas leads the series 3-1 with a chance to close it out at home on Wednesday night. Sam Steel and Evgenii Dadonov also scored, Jason Robertson had two assists, and Jake Oettinger turned away 25 shots for the Stars.

Dallas center Roope Hintz left the game early in the second period with an upper-body injury and didn’t return.

Alexandar Georgiev made 29 saves, Casey Mittelstadt scored and Jonathan Drouin had an assist in his return to the lineup for Colorado. Drouin had been out since suffering a lower-body injury in the final game of the regular season.

Drouin’s return was thought to give the Avalanche a full lineup but an hour before puck drop the NHLPA announced that Colorado forward Valeri Nichushkin has been placed in Stage 3 of the Player Assistance Program of the NHL/NHLPA and is suspended without pay for a minimum of six months.

Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews was also scratched due to illness.

The Stars outshot Colorado 16-2 in the first period and got the only goal on a penalty kill. Johnston stole the puck from Cale Makar deep in the Avalanche zone and fed Steel in the slot for a wrister. Georgiev stopped that but Johnston knocked in the rebound at 15:37.

Johnston made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 5:46 of the second period, his team-leading seventh goal of the postseason.

Heiskanen extended the lead to 3-0 at 11:24, his fourth goal, but Mittelstadt answered for the Avalanche at 12:35. It was his second of the playoffs.

That’s all the hosts could manage against a stingy Stars defense, which has held Colorado to two goals in the last two games. The Avalanche were averaging five goals through their first seven postseason games.

Dadonov’s goal at 9:27 of the third, his third of the playoffs, made it a three-goal game. Steel scored his first of the postseason into an empty net at 18:10.